Global Threats, Global Futures
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Global Threats, Global Futures

Living with Declining Living Standards

Thayer Scudder

Global threats can be expected to cause a global environmental crisis and declining living standards for most people. Threats analyzed include poverty, cultural, economic, political and religious fundamentalism, consumption, population increase and degradation of the global ecosystem. Chapters on the United States, China and Zambia illustrate difficulties that high, middle and low income countries face in addressing such threats. The final chapter examines the type of transformational change required just to reduce the rate and magnitude of future decline.
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Chapter 2: The Threat of Fundamentalism

Thayer Scudder


INTRODUCTION I define fundamentalists as those who are committed to following an exclusive ideology which they believe every one should share. At best they are unaware or unconcerned about other belief systems. At worst they are committed to using destructive means to convert others to their own beliefs. Today fundamentalism has a global impact as a threat. The threat posed by religious fundamentalism has a history dating back over thousands of years. The nature of the threat intensified when national governments exported a broader range of cultural, economic and political fundamentalist policies during the era of Western colonialism. In recent years there have been the fundamentalist efforts of the second Bush administration in the United States to export American democracy to the Middle East and to superimpose the Christian fundamentalism of a minority of U.S. citizens on the nation’s majority, and, through restrictions on foreign aid, on the international community. In Sri Lanka, Buddhist-dominated governments have implemented fundamentalist cultural, political and religious policies that marginalized, and led to civil war with the country’s Tamil-speaking Hindu minority. In the Middle East, Israeli religious and political fundamentalism has marginalized millions of Palestinians. The potentially destructive structural adjustment and Washington Consensus policies of the World Bank, as explained in Chapter 1, have been a form of economic fundamentalism in that they involved an untested ‘one fits all’ set of economic policies that borrower nations were expected to immediately adopt. Different kinds of fundamentalism are major threats to global living standards today and in...

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